Creativity is Key For This Young Sustainable Vegan Baker

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Vegan bakery – Crumbs
Keyana Bourne ices a naked cake, which has a thin outer coating of frosting to show the layers of cake and fillings for a more rustic look. She finishes each one with toppings like cookies or edible flowers.

By Claire Delano | Photography courtesy of Crumbs

Keyana Bourne still remembers the first thing she baked by herself. “I believe [it] was a Duncan Hines yellow cake with the chocolate frosting,” she recalls. “It’s such a nostalgic dessert!” Baking has been her passion since she got her start at just 8 years old with an Easy-Bake Oven. Before long, she moved on to cake mixes and then to baking from scratch. She perfected her skills over years of hard work and practice on everything from croissants to cinnamon rolls. “On the weekends, I would bake anything my family and I [were] craving,” she says. “Anything you can think of, I’m sure I’ve made at one point.”  

Keyana turned her childhood pastime into a profession when she opened vegan bakery Crumbs in 2017 and made it her full-time job two years later. “As a vegan, I realized there was a lack of vegan options in the area,” she says. “I wanted to create a variety of items for the community that were free from animal products but still delicious!” 

Her online business serves both Chapel Hill, where Keyana grew up and attended East Chapel Hill High School, and Durham, where she moved last year. Crumbs has no shortage of handcrafted tempting treats, both sweet and savory: Muffins. Biscuits. Cookies. Crumbs offers an array of gluten-free desserts as well, from classic vanilla cake to a s’mores crostata. “[I] slowly started implementing gluten-free items because I wanted to create delicious options despite anyone’s dietary restrictions,” she says. Keyana makes all of her baked goods from scratch and is dedicated to using organic, local ingredients through wholesaler Happy Dirt.

vegan cinnamon rolls by Crumbs bakery

Sustainable vegan baking is an exercise in creativity for Keyana. “It’s amazing what you can create without using any animal products,” she says. “It’s also fun experimenting and finding substitutes. I love using seasonal ingredients, so I get to come up with new recipe ideas every few months.” When it comes to presentation, she utilizes fruit, cookie crumbs, sprinkles and “especially flowers” to give her treats that final irresistible touch. “You can really get creative with cake decorating; it’s like a blank canvas!” she says.

Crumbs currently hosts pop-ups in Durham coffee shops such as Foster Street Coffee, and Keyana will join the Durham Farmers Market once things with [COVID-19] settle down. As her business continues to grow, she has big dreams for Crumbs’ future. “The plan is to have a bakery/coffee shop that will eventually expand into a vegan cafe!” she says.

Sounds sweet.

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